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1. Skills and Expertise

Technical knowledge that supports the platform, design skills that enable the creation of an effective website, and troubleshooting abilities are some of the major skills required by a professional WordPress developer. These skills can be consolidated by practicing on the WordPress application. This will help you understand the resolution and other aspects of your work better. When working on an actual website project, try to implement all the features of WordPress. This will give you a better idea of whether you are on the right track and will also develop your troubleshooting abilities, as sometimes you may need to delve into the code to resolve minor issues. The aforementioned skills also depend on the IT background of the person. Someone with an IT background will pick up these skills more quickly than someone without an IT background. However, the key point here is that WordPress is a platform for anyone who wants to do something in web development, and it has something for everyone. Now let’s talk about something that is not directly linked to any development platform but is also essential for a professional career. A professional always keeps an eye on market trends. They always try to work with new technologies and upgrade themselves. In web development, there will always be a need to work on SEO and online marketing. So a person needs to brush up on those skills. Nowadays, clients also expect WordPress professionals to have some knowledge of Photoshop. There are times when you need to create quick graphics, such as changing the color of a button or creating a new header. For these tasks, you may prefer to do it yourself rather than hiring someone else. Therefore, having design skills makes you a more complete WordPress professional. The aforementioned skills can be developed by working part-time on small projects. This can be a small side business or freelancing job, as practice makes perfect. Now, discussing the above text, one may question why we need to do all these things and if there is any scope for career growth. The answer will be provided in the next segment.

1.1. Technical knowledge

Now, perhaps more than ever before, technical knowledge is a prerequisite. In the early days of content management systems, an understanding of how web pages were constructed was an advantage. Now it is becoming essential. PHP is the language that WordPress is built on and CSS customization is no longer a perk. In order to create a website which stands out in the WordPress community, a professional must have a good understanding of these languages. There are an abundance of tutorials available for those who wish to improve their PHP and CSS skills, but nothing can substitute practice. The best web development professionals are those who have learned by trial and error. Knowledge of PHP will also enable professionals to create their own widgets, saving time searching through the vast array of plugins available. Acquiring a basic knowledge of UNIX is also useful for debugging purposes and will enable more experienced users to customize themes and plugins. In a nutshell, the more a person puts into understanding these languages, the more they will get out of WordPress. Anyone with ambitions to become an expert in web development would be wise to move on to Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Although Ruby is not currently compatible with WordPress, it is a popular open-source language which is ideal for web programming and will undoubtedly be supported by WordPress in the future. Learning Ruby now will be a worthwhile investment for those who have long-term WordPress goals. Finally, the best way to understand a database-driven web application like WordPress is to experiment with MySQL. Understanding the structure of the WordPress database will enable professionals to write more effective plugins and execute more advanced site migrations. All of these programming-related skills are transferable and will benefit users of other content management systems, or indeed anyone working on web development projects.

1.2. Design skills

Professionals within the web design and development industry will understand the importance of design within a web environment. They will appreciate that the visual impression of a web site is what immediately captures the visitor’s attention and it is this factor that will determine whether they will stay or go. Design experience can vary from one individual to another, and far be it from me to say that one person’s design is of a better standard than another’s, it is purely a matter of individual taste. That said, there are a number of design skills that are universally important in presenting a quality web site. The first skill is the ability to create an original web site theme. An original theme will give a site a unique identity and differentiate it from the countless other sites on the web. It can leave a lasting impression on the visitor and can be a decisive factor in bringing them back to the site. High theme customizability has the same effect. People, primarily those using content management systems, like to have the ability to customize their site. This can mean anything from simply changing colors to a complete reorganization of the content. A site with a theme that has a high customizability factor can again, retain more visitors due to the fact that they can easily change the look of the site to create a different feel.

1.3. Troubleshooting abilities

Strong troubleshooting is one skill that really sets the best developers apart. At first glance, one might consider troubleshooting to be a skill that is somewhat inherent in technical knowledge. Nonetheless, the ability to effectively troubleshoot is a skill in itself. Knowing how to pinpoint the cause of a problem quickly is something that separates the experienced from the novice. More experienced developers often have a mental ‘troubleshooting checklist’ that they will run through when things go wrong. This will usually involve checking the simplest and most common causes first (is it switched on? is it plugged in? etc.) before moving on to more complex and obscure causes. Being able to predict the likelihood of certain problems occurring and therefore using preventative measures is another thing that comes with experience. If a developer finds themselves solving the same problem for a second time, that is a sure sign of something that should be learned from. Another ability that separates good troubleshooters from bad is their attention to detail. Quite often the ability to understand and fix a problem comes from the information gained when the problem occurred. More thorough note taking and record keeping of errors and their solutions can save a lot of time and frustration in the future. High attention to detail will also help in not overlooking things. There is no use pulling apart and examining lines of code if the problem is a simple misspelling. Knowing when to seek help is also an important point. Ego can be a large barrier in effective troubleshooting, so swallowing one’s pride and seeking an outside opinion can sometimes be the fastest way to a solution.

2. Experience and Portfolio

Due to the high demand for WordPress professionals, seasoned ones only need to take a job that pays well, thus leading to higher costs passed onto clients. There are so many WordPress professionals that have only been doing this as a hobby or part-time job. The truly dedicated have chosen WordPress as their full-time career and odds are, those are the ones who have earned what it takes to be a high-value professional. In the event an emergency takes place, missing or negligibly priced entry-level developers are not available. Web development is typically riddled with the types of problems that can make or break a business and as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” By ensuring potential hires understand the quality difference, businesses can avoid stormy nights with outsourced India developers who have gone to sleep. It is quite recommendable to build lasting business relationships with local professionals or firms; the weight of their geographical location is inescapable. High-value professionals are here when you need them.

2.1. Years of experience

Experience is not something that money can buy and is earned through time. Professionals with a passion for technology and web development will begin this process early and will continue the process of learning and self-improvement throughout their entire career. High-level professionals will actually use their job time as a means for learning and self-improvement. All the experience accumulated by a WordPress professional is valuable and has a profound effect on the methods used and the solutions created for future projects.

There is just no substitute for experience. It will separate you from the competition, provide you a means for continued learning, distinguish yourself from your competition, increase your rate of pay, and allow you to demand higher levels and more exciting work. In my opinion, the single most important aspect cited by employers when they are looking to hire a professional is their level of experience. High-quality professionals with significant experience have learned how to create solutions in a variety of ways and often are able to select the best solution from many.

One of the most desired qualities that any employer seeks in any employee is experience. This quality is also applicable to WordPress professionals. The more experienced a WordPress professional is, the more likely he is to be hired compared to less experienced professionals. Years of experience make the professional sharp, refined, and increase the chances of the success of the project. If you are a professional new to WordPress or a freelancer, my suggestion is you should take small projects at first and eventually move on to bigger projects. After numerous small projects/jobs, you will encounter different problems and scenarios, and eventually, this will refine your skills.

2.2. Successful projects

The measure of success for a project is often relative to the nature of the project itself. Success may be measured by the project meeting deadlines and performing with efficiency. While these are generally good benchmarks of success, it is more important in cases of consultative or agency work that the project lay the proper groundwork for future success. This is achieved by an increase in traffic, conversions, and ultimately sales for an online business, and in terms of on-site SEO improving rankings, leading to increased traffic and sales for a client using the website as a lead generation tool. This can also highlight whether a developer understands and has the ability to apply more advanced WordPress solutions which may be necessary for the project. An indication of successful projects should be a critical factor in the decision to employ a WordPress professional.

Some people argue that experience is the most important factor and thus measure of a developer’s professionalism. If it is indeed the case, then taking the project which the developer has just done or is doing, and the projects which he has performed in the past. Even a seasoned WordPress professional is not necessarily good at what he is doing. When taking on skills that may be cross-disciplinary such as project management and SEO, a developer may lack the necessary skills to apply it effectively. As such, specific experience can be a reliable indicator as to a WordPress professional’s ability.

2.3. Client testimonials

A long history of happy clients is always a good sign. Differentiate between just showing logos of clients you’ve worked with and including detailed personal testimonials. If the only testimonials you have are displayed on a third-party website or, heaven forbid, not displayed at all, our advice is to get those up on your site pronto. Serve your clients by making it super easy for them to brag about how happy they are with your services. If they’ve written you a nice email, ask them if you can display it on your site with a link back to their business. At worst, you can write the testimonial for them and just ask them to approve it. If they’re happy clients, chances are they’ll be more than willing to help you out in return for the good work you’ve done for them. Be specific about the results you achieved for the client so that potential clients can imagine what you can do for them. For example, “We helped our client to increase their online sales by 150% in 3 months”. If you can include information on the specific project the testimonial is referring to, it will add credibility. For example, “The team at Acme Corp were ecstatic with the results from the search engine marketing campaign to promote our new range of ergonomic office furniture.

2.4. Demonstrated expertise in specific industries

In many cases, expertise in specific industries comes from prior working experience. The best professionals will have experience in an array of fields, but will focus on industries that they are knowledgeable in. This knowledge should usually be based on real-world experiences within these industries themselves, as opposed to simply possessing knowledge of them. If a WordPress professional owns their own business, it is common to have developed a WordPress site for their business. This experience is invaluable, as they have worked on a real-world project that had financial constraints and other obstacles specific to small businesses. If the professional has worked in the IT department of a large corporation, developing an internal intranet site, this is another situation rife with real-world experience, dealing with the types of specific issues that large companies face when looking to develop web-based systems. With the knowledge the professional has gained from these past experiences, they will be able to understand the needs of similar businesses looking to develop websites and will know the best ways to serve these clients. Another way to develop industry-specific expertise is to form long-term professional relationships with clients in certain industries. If a WordPress professional has a client who continually refers work from their industry, the professional will gain a depth of experience from working on various projects within that industry. Over time, the professional will gain a great understanding of that particular industry’s needs, and if they have a high success rate in servicing clients from that industry, this is a strong point in their favor.

3. Communication and Collaboration

Communication can be the key to many things, and it is something that is very often overlooked. As all interactions in a web development project will be virtual, the ability to communicate ideas and issues effectively will be one of the crucial factors that sets the best WordPress professionals apart. With no physical presence, the ability to listen and communicate well is often the only thing that will differentiate two developers. Clarity and conciseness in communication can save time and effort later on, as there will be less confusion around an issue or task. This means using proper grammar and spelling and always rereading an email or message before sending it. A developer who can explain an idea before implementing it is also extremely valuable, as often there are better ways to do things which may not be considered. Developing a solution that does not meet the requirements of the issue is a common pitfall that can be easily avoided with thorough explanation and understanding of the task. Active listening skills go hand in hand with communication, and are also a very important yet often overlooked attribute in a web developer. With many different ways to accomplish an idea in WordPress, often a client or team member will have a specific method in mind when conveying a task to be done. If the developer only half listens to the task and uses their own initiative to complete it, it may not be in the way that was required. This can waste a lot of time and also lead to frustration from the client who may feel that their request was not fulfilled. An effective listener will be able to summarize the task at hand and ask questions where necessary to gain a full understanding of what is required, thus saving time and effort spent later on.

3.1. Clear and effective communication

Effective communication is not only essential for communication between team and client but also for the project’s progression and successfully completed goals. By setting specific objectives and goals and having clear communication of these to all team members, a project is much more likely to stay on track and complete its intended goals. This is the best way to measure project success and is often taken for granted. An effective communicator will also be able to accurately convey their ideas or suggestions for a project and give and receive critique in a positive manner. This is very important when design decisions are disputed. A developer with an idea of what really makes a good website and the ability to effectively communicate this through to a designer greatly increases the chances of project success.

Effective communication creates a clear understanding between all parties involved on the project, and it significantly reduces the time needed clarifying project requirements down the track. Any experienced contractor or IT consultant will stress how important it is to understand exactly what a client needs, as this provides the blueprint to project development. Without clear communication, it is very likely that a project will not be properly scoped out, often leading to additional client costs and unsatisfied clients due to work not completed as initially expected.

Effective communication with clients and within the team is essential for successful project development. This should be obvious to most. Have you ever had a situation where a project didn’t go as planned due to miscommunication? Chances are this happened to you, as WP professionals have all been there at some stage throughout their career. Being able to communicate effectively, and previous experiences where miscommunication has hindered development can assist in making changes to prevent similar occurrences in future projects.

3.2. Active listening skills

Active listening skills are an essential element of quality communication that allows the listener to understand the speaker. Surveys demonstrate listening is a communication activity that occupies a significant amount of time – anywhere from 45 percent to 80 percent (Tsui, 1994). The efficient use of listening skills has been shown to be positively related to advancement in learning, cognitive development, reading, problem solving, comprehension, evaluation, attention, motivation, and reduced anxiety. While sharing of information is an important part of communication, well-timed silence can be as valuable as speaking. It can provide the speaker with thinking time, help to avoid making a premature comment, and provide the listener with a sense of having fully considered the opinion. Good listening can be used to demonstrate interest and encourage the speaker to feel free about expressing their ideas. A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but how it is said and the messages that are being communicated with the speech. By not hearing the speaker, an active listener will be able to avoid interrupting when they have not understood a point and when the speaker has finished. High-quality listening acts as a display of genuine interest and the more interest shown, the more comfortable the speaker will feel in speaking. These elements are especially important for those working in a team to solve issues or collaborating in a tight-knit community. With clients, employing good listening skills will lead to higher genuine understanding from both parties and will enable brief to be met to greater satisfaction.

3.3. Ability to work in a team

The ability to work as a team member is desirable in the eyes of employers. It involves building relationships with your co-workers and other people in and around the organization. It demonstrates your willingness to work with others, a vital skill in jobs such as a politician, an actor, a lawyer, or any involving high levels of group work. Teamwork is also a way to avoid responsibility of a mistake and pass it on to others, however in a good team each member will take responsibility and accountability for their actions. There are several key attributes that will make you a good team player. The first of these is reliability. Being someone that can be counted on to complete work to a high standard and meet deadlines is an attribute that is highly desirable. Another attribute is availability and good communication skills, and so often remote workers miss out on team meetings or other organizations. Your ability to regularly spend time with the other members of your team and ensure you are always aware of what is going on will make it far easier to act together as a team. The next attribute is a positive attitude. Having an optimistic outlook increases motivation and makes the work environment more enjoyable, also taking a constructive approach to the teams actions, even if it means criticizing and saying what you are doing is wrong. This however leads into the final attribute, being able to take into account other people’s ideas and concerns while being able to admit when you are wrong about something. When working in a job that involves web development, you are almost certain to work as part of a team at some stage in your career. It could be in any situation, perhaps working on a site with a friend, working on projects within your organization, or freelance work for a client. Techniques used to achieve effective teamwork vary from job to job and organization to organization, but in any team environment it is critical you can show you possess these teamwork attributes.

3.4. Client management skills

‘The customer is always right’. This is a business principle that is as old as the first commercial transaction. Yet many web developers do not adequately understand this. Many clients are frustrated due to the common complaint that web developers are difficult to deal with. This can range from anything from being late to meetings to completely disregarding a client’s wishes. Someone who has excellent client management skills can instantly set themselves apart from the pack. In terms of dealing with clients for a WordPress project, this can be a stressful experience. The client may not understand the limitations of web design and/or WordPress or they may want something that is impossible without having it explicitly explained to them. This can be a test of patience but it’s a test that if passed can yield a strong and profitable business relationship. Always remember, if a client is unhappy with something it is ultimately your fault not theirs. Make sure you understand what they want. If there’s something you’re unsure of, ask them repeatedly if necessary. Clarity and understanding are paramount. A skill that some web developers may need to learn is swallowing your pride. If a client is telling you that what you have created for them is not what they asked for, don’t argue with them. Chances are they are correct. Humbling oneself and working to meet the client’s desires even if it is something that you disagree with is a professional and respectful course of action. The ability to effectively manage and secure continued work from a client is crucial to freelance work and business and client management is no doubt a significant part of that.

4. Continuous Learning and Adaptability

Continuous learning is vital for a WordPress professional to move forward and become successful in their career. They must be aware of what is happening in their field, whether it be new WordPress plugins, updates, or new developments in the world of website design. Do they read WordPress tutorials or attend other CMS or web design/development related courses? Just as doctors and other professionals do, it’s necessary to read and learn new things in order to improve their knowledge and skills in their job. This is related to increasing your value as an employee. This can involve taking the initiative in signing up for courses not only when they are forced to as part of their job, but also when it is of their own volition as a long-term investment in their career. This may mean taking a course at a local college, or it may involve online courses that are becoming increasingly prevalent. Adaptability encompasses many things, including being able to leave old habits and methods behind. An example of this is leaving WYSIWYG editors in order to learn CSS for layout design, as it is more efficient and produces faster load times. In a wider view, adaptability can involve taking on different types of projects that may be out of their normal scope of work. It’s very tempting to take easier projects that don’t pay as much, but in the long run, taking more difficult projects that offer higher compensation will aid in the advancement of a WordPress professional’s career. Finally, a WordPress professional must be able to adapt to changes in the economy without it severely impacting their job. This can involve anything from learning additional skills, taking freelance work, or even starting their own business.

4.1. Staying updated with latest WordPress trends

Staying up to date with the latest trends in WordPress is very crucial for the best professionals. WordPress has been through a lot of changes since its inception and it continues to change. Not all changes are liked by everyone but the best workforce nevertheless has to keep up with it. There are times when a new feature is added and older ones are changed, removed, updated or repurposed. This will require theme and plugin authors to update their code to work with the new changes. Failure to do so will render a piece of code obsolete. New coding standards are also introduced with every major WP version. All these means that if one wishes to maintain and develop a code base for WordPress, one must keep learning. Static knowledge will not lead very far. New knowledge needs to be relevant and current. A professional who did a great job with a new solution for WP in year 2008, if stop learning, that solution might become irrelevant or worse it might become the wrong way to do it due to updates in the WP core. An updated professional will continue to develop his existing solution to meet the current needs. A non-updated professional would keep doing the same thing and in worst cases, start regressing as his method is outdated. This could affect a client using his service in a negative way. A best workforce also needs to know the implications of new changes to the end user and how this can benefit the user. All the changes he has done or need to do might lead to extra billing or scrapping a job and doing it all over or even suggesting a totally new solution for the client’s problem. It is very beneficial if the professional knows the latest changes in WP so he can advise the client the best course of action and offer alternatives to fit the client’s budget or preferences.

4.2. Willingness to learn new technologies

What sets the best WordPress professionals apart? Answers revealed – by Miranda Miller. The essay starts with a brief explanation of how WordPress has become a language for web designers. It has become so popular that now people are skeptical about its downfall. So they keep on asking, “How long will WordPress survive?”. Miranda gives her view about it. She says WordPress is going to survive for a very long time. The reason for its survival is continuous update of new features and bug fixes. WordPress started primarily as a blogging platform, but then slowly it emerged as a CMS platform. Miranda then talks about what are the key things that separate good WordPress professionals from the great ones. She mentions a few points, but this essay is primarily going to talk about these three points. The first point is “Continuous learning and adaptability”. She further explains this in three subpoints. They are, staying updated with the latest WordPress trends, willingness to learn new technologies, and ability to adapt to new requirements. She explains each subpoint with an intention that all good web developers will desire to become great WordPress designers.

4.3. Ability to adapt to changing requirements

As a web development company, we feel that the third point is the most important. Long gone are the days when a client would ask for a simple website and then not want to change anything for 5 years. Recently, with the growth of web 2.0 and CSS sites, clients can cheaply and efficiently update the look and feel of their website. They can create microsites to promote a product. They can start a company blog. All of these changes generally mean more work for WordPress developers. Unfortunately, many devs want to just use the same methods and plugins that they are comfortable with and which have worked for them in the past. This can lead to a mediocre solution for the client or just frustration as the dev tries to force an old square peg into a new round hole. The best WordPress professionals will be able to surmount these difficulties and find the best solution for the client. This may mean doing some research, asking questions in the WordPress forums, or even calling a more experienced WP developer friend. But the end result is that the client will be satisfied and the developer will have learned something new which may help him in a future project. Stepfs said it best in his blog article about becoming a real programmer: “A real developer is someone who can take a poorly defined problem, work out what is really required, and then deliver a working solution.” This is what we should strive towards.

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Top 10 Traits to Look for When Hiring WordPress Professionals (webcasa.com)

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